There’s our girl Rhaenyra, pushing Ser Cristan Cole into her room and then between her legs: playful, cheerful, perhaps overcompensating for earlier disappointments, but nonetheless Really Feel it. And then there’s her best friend, Alicent, lying on her back, staring at the ceiling, wishing her husband, the king, would hurry up and finish so he could get off her and pee in a jar or something.
For all your SEX SEX SEX, game of Thrones other house of the dragon There has been a lot of talk about a particular power dynamic in the bedroom: male dominance. The Westerosi sexual experience is varied. Off the top of my head, I can easily recall Yara Greyjoy fondling a woman at a brothel’s outdoor picnic table (and being fondled on a horse by, ew, her brother); Daenerys carrying Daario Naharis to the royal mattress; Ygritte finally found out that Jon Snow does know a thing or two, etc, etc. But the rape scenes — and good heavens, there were a lot of them — generated the most discussion. And a good deal of the fucking and sucking we’ve been subjected to for over a decade of the series on television has involved showing sex in all its Twister spinner variety. Have you noticed how sexy our show is? Have you seen how people have sex everywhere, all the time? Did you see how we made them do it against a wall/in a horse stable/right before they pushed a kid off a tower? Some were perverted, some were beautiful, some were cruel. But mostly, it was just a bunch of push.
“King of the Narrow Sea” brings Big Sex Energy to house of the dragon and pulls off a nifty little trick. It sets us up to think that Rhaenyra’s failed relationship with Daemon will be the “coupling” (to use Otto Hightower’s word) of the night, when in reality, it’s just the first of a series of three, with the last two telling us much. more than the first. (Though incest has a way of throwing things off balance a bit.) Kudos to house of the dragon for finding a way to make the sex really advance the narrative and character development, creating the strongest episode yet.
Rhaenyra has been dragged across the country, held up like a sculpture at auction for clumsy, sneering, or downright preteen men to bid on. The names are familiar: Dondarrion, Bracken, Blackwood, all old families possessed of fortune and in need of a royal wife to take them to the top of the nobility. Of course, the princess has spent the last few years gawking at Cristan and lingering too long with her uncle Daemon, and these fools pale in comparison to any of them. There is also the obvious fact that she does not want to marry or have children. If she were a man, as she points out angrily, she would be encouraged to try out a few maidens before settling down. But as princess and heiress, purity is the order of the day.
It will be a shame when Milly Alcock leaves the role in the sixth episode (Emma D’Arcy will replace her as an older Rhaenyra). Whichever casting director cast her alongside Matt Smith hit the jackpot in chemistry; even when they’re mad at each other, Daemon and Rhaenyra create a dry heat between them and seem about to embrace. When Daemon appears in Caraxes and dances down the aisle of the Great Hall, freshly cut to better show off his new bone crown, his eyes spark. Together on the verandah by the weirwood, both hint at the dissatisfaction that will plague them if they are condemned to the life they hope to lead; it is not said that life together could satisfy them both. (The Valyrian, again, throws oil on his fire. Did George RR Martin, of all people, somehow create an entire language that sounds like lustful licks, shoves, and grabs?) Wandering around King’s Landing, even before landing in the house of pleasure, their connection oscillates between parental guidance and dizzying pleasure.
Rhaenyra needs tonight outside of Red Keep. Daemon has tasted more of life than most, as he has moved from room to room within a heavily guarded house, venturing out only for the sake of duty. But Daemon has more on his mind than offering you a taste of King’s Landing’s nightlife spectacle. Her presence in an amateur theater production, dealing with Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne over her little brother’s, feels planned, especially when Daemon reminds her that little Aegon, as the bearer of a penis, will always have more appeal to her. the kingdom. . He manages to put her in her shoes and seduce her in a single night, a series of events befitting a classic asshole like Daemon.
But what goes wrong against that wall in the house of pleasure? The camera angles are intentionally vague, but Rhaenyra is left with her pants down as Daemon walks away from her, so we know something started. We have to wonder if he has second thoughts about nailing his niece or if her team has failed him again, the same way she got drenched with Mysaria in the first episode. The impotence of the Targaryens! That’s intriguing.
Viserys isn’t exactly thrilling his wife in the sack, either. Alicent tells Rhaenyra earlier in the episode, when they reconcile over her shared disgust at the Targaryen boys’ club pranks, that she is lonely in her role. Her royal husband may have elevated her to queen, but the interactions between them are painfully formal. When Viserys first calls her into her chamber, she wants to sneak away, but she calls duty! Beneath her pustular body, she can only look into the middle distance and take her mind elsewhere.
The comparison between the sex lives of the two women remixes their balance of power. In the last episode, Alicent overruled Rhaenyra regarding the ruthless lute player. But single Rhaenyra finds a way to slip away, see the world, and play with a man (yes, her uncle) in a medieval-flavored setting. Eyes wide Shut. Alicent bounces a screaming baby, smiles blankly at her husband when she speaks, and sighs when he wants her in her bed. Rhaenyra, rejected by one man, taunts her and coaxes another until she slowly (very, very slowly, oh my lord, how slowly) she removes her armor and climbs into her bed.
My oh my, Rhaenyra can lie. She swears on her mother’s grave that she had nothing to do with Daemon. Meanwhile, she promptly (in a hangover stupor on the sweetly cold floor of the Great Hall) admits that they were foolish. It’s in everyone’s best interest to tell those stories: Rhaenyra to preserve her place as the unsullied heir to the throne, and Daemon to convince Viserys that no one else will have Rhaenyra now, and it makes sense for the two to marry. But Daemon miscalculates. “I fucked your daughter, so now you have to let her marry me” might work for some parents, but Viserys isn’t one of them. “You are the dragon and your word is law”, he is not convinced either. And Viserys seems wary of such a close incestuous relationship. When Daemon insists that it’s “his family tradition,” it’s partly for the benefit of the audience, to remind us that this is a Targaryen thing, so we should just be a little (?) appalled. But it’s also a callback to Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen to rule Westeros and the mighty ancestor of his clan, who also married his sisters.
This episode finally opened up the rules of the game for house of the dragon. He gave Rhaenyra a taste of the empowerment that comes from rebellion. He humbled Viserys to a new low. He banished Daemon once again (pfff) but also gave him much more than just a bad boy strut across the continent. He left Viserys without his closest advisor. And he further impressed us (and Rhaenyra) as to why the Targaryen line of succession is so important.
The dragonglass dagger that Viserys holds when he scolds Rhaenyra is the same one that Littlefinger sends with an assassin to kill Bran in the first season of game of Thrones, the same one that addresses Ned, and then back to Littlefinger, and then to Bran, and then to Arya. And what he says is “From my blood comes the prince that was promised, and his will will be the song of ice and fire.” We know the end of the dagger’s journey into the Night King’s belly, but now we will learn the route from him. And perhaps more of his secrets and his magic.
• Rhys Ifans’ horrified and maligned face works wonders when Viserys not only removes Otto as Hand of the King (at Rhaenyra’s insistence), but the king essentially accuses him of murder to gain the position. The scene, between two masterful actors, Ifans and Paddy Considine, speaks to so much raw emotion.
• Bit by bit, Otto’s façade is crumbling, and underneath the decorous sage, there is quite a bit of conspiracy. Turns out he has his own little birds whispering in his ear.
• I won’t use a fantasy TV show to make a political point, but I really will: It must be good for Rhaenyra to have such easy access to an abortion, without government interference!
• It’s a small point, but Rhaenyra is no longer cupbearer at Small Council meetings. A step forward!
• The play Daemon and Rhaenyra witness is a significant nod to the one Arya sees in Braavos depicting her father’s execution. Strange how often this seems to happen to nobility!
• Exactly how does Daemon end up in the… cave of Mysaria?
• That little stabbing at the beginning is just the latest in a long series of family feuds between the Brackens and the Blackwoods, who once fought for control of the Riverlands.
• “Your interests no longer align with those of the realm”, the words Viserys uses to fire Otto sound like hilarious corporate language.
• The latter is certainly not less important. Rhaenyra is now to marry Laenor Velaryon, who she was last seen looking handsome on dragonback on the Steps of Stone. But does her family already know this? Corlys sailed home after the Crabman was killed and conveniently hasn’t returned to King’s Landing.